New Adventure Travel Website Capitalizes on "Conservation Travel" Trend
SEEtheWILD promotes a tiger spotting tour in India
If your travel bucket list seems to be brimming over with claws, fins, feathers, and fur, a new website promoting "conservation travel" may be a worthwhile resource to consider.
SEEtheWILD.org boasts that it is the "first responsible adventure travel website that invites travelers to vacation with their favorite wild animals and help save them in the process." Vacations booked through SEEtheWILD support conservation efforts through offering an economic alternative to more destructive activities, increasing funding, and educating potential advocates for conservation.
The smartly designed website allows visitors to search for their ideal vacation by animal type: wildcats, bears, birds, turtles, sharks, or whales. From there, a destination is selected with a pre-approved tour operator.
As ecotourism grows in popularity, consumers and operators must do a better job of defining exactly what "ecotourism" means. For many, it is simply a marketing term meaning any vacation or trip in natural surroundings-- an easy requirement to fulfill. "Ecotourism" does have an implied suggestion of environmental and social responsibility, whether providers who use the term actually are responsible or not.
Many tout ecotourism as a viable solution to the problems of environmental degradation and underdevelopment, claiming that ecotourism has the potential to enrich communities, save endangered species and threatened land, all while giving the consumer an engaging, fun experience. As tourism in nature encompasses seemingly limitless options, the ecotourism industry needs to clearly define and delineate different travel practices and standards.
Due to the reality of the dynamic travel industry being far from centrally controlled, developing a single standard or definition of responsible tourism is challenging. The American Society of Travel Agents created "Ten Commandments on Eco-Tourism," the National Audubon Society has published a "Travel Ethic for Environmental Responsible Travel," and there a hodgepodge of other standards and certifications, but no international, oft-used system. For this reason, the onus is on the individual traveler.
SEEtheWILD is a great filter for the conscientious traveler, as they provide information on the clearly defined criteria they require of all tour operators, as well as detailed backgrounders on their tour operators and non-profit partners.
"Ecotourism" and "green travel," when used too loosely, are little more than cringeworthy buzz words employed all too often in greenwashing efforts. For many travelers and environmentalists, the concept of consumption as a prerequisite to conservation is a frustrating one. That said, at first glance, SEEtheWILD appears to be striking the right balance between providing an interesting experience to travelers while maintaining a sincere commitment to the communities they send those tourists to.
Photo Credit: Keith Roper